Can the Oktoberfest take place in 2022 or will it once again be canceled due to the COVID-19-pandemic?
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the predominant question in 2022 is whether the Munich Oktoberfest will take place or if it will be cancelled again. Before, Munich celebrated its Oktoberfest annually 70 years in a row, before the pandemic called for the first cancellations since WWII.
April 29th: the Oktoberfest 2022 will take place
April 27th: decision will be announced on Friday
The city of Munich is inviting the media to a press conference in the city hall on Friday at 12:30 pm. The only topic: the decision on whether the Oktoberfest will be held.
April 20th: decision will be made soon
The volksfest season has already begun: this past weekend, the Nuremberg Frühlingsfest and the Augsburg Osterplärrer, two larger festivals, were kicked off, and Munich's Frühlingsfest will follow on Friday.
The volksfest mood seems to be good, and therefore we can be optimistic that the announcement by Munich's Mayor to decide next week whether the Oktoberfest will be held is a good one.
He told the Bavarian Television on April 20th, "I will decide next week and only want to clarify the conditions before. I still have a couple of discussions with my heads of administration to do so."
It sounds like we don't even have to wonder about the "whether" anymore, only about the "how".
Frühlingsfest will go ahead as planned
As announced on March 31st, the Munich Frühlingsfest, often called the Oktoberfest's small sister, will start on April 22nd just as planned. It will be held with no pandemic restrictions.
When will be decided if the Oktoberfest 2022 will take place?
In 2020 and 2021, the decision was made on April 21st and May 3rd. We're expecting the decision to be announced again in May this year. At the latest, tent hosts and breweries would have to know by June whether they're supposed to set up their tents or not, as the 11-week construction usually begins mid-July.
Could there be an Oktoberfest with pandemic-related restrictions?
Last year, we answered this question with a clear and precise no. This year, the answer will still be no when we think about restrictions on the fairgrounds themselves. The Oktoberfest may be very profitable for anyone having a business there, but it also creates significant costs that have to be earned first. Setting up any of the large tents is more than a million Euro. Financing this hue effort, will not be possible with capacity restrictions.
In the long run, however, there are aspects even more important than the economic ones: doing a toned-down Oktoberfest with major restrictions may harm the character of the fest, which everybody loves it for and could damage its brand.
This was the reason why the city council was very hesitant to celebrate an Oktoberfest post-WWII. Before 1949, Munich only had significantly smaller "Herbsfests" to replace the Oktoberfest until the economy was ready to support a real Oktoberfest.
Will I need to be vaccinated?
In the last two years, city officials made it clear the Oktoberfest could only be done properly or not at all. However, one major thing changed in 2022: ruled out before, the city is now checking concepts for access restrictions.
After two cancellations, there's lots of pressure to prevent a third one and at least allow vaccinated people to visit the Oktoberfest. As checking anyone's vaccination status on-site would create huge issues - only think about the vast space that would be needed for queues on a Saturday morning - there may be checkpoints at multiple locations in the city where you can prove your vaccination status to obtain a wrist band valid for the whole Oktoberfest.
This way, they could significantly reduce the workload at the entrances themselves. A very similar system was in place at the Herbstmesse in Basel, Switzerland this past October and November. In Munich, the Frühlingsfest in May could be used for a test run.
However, additional tests of each visitor will not be implemented. The sheer number of tests and checking each of them would not be manageable.
May the Oktoberfest be preponed?
Well, it may sound absurd, but the city is actually even checking this option to avoid a fall surge of infections. This would, however, have major side effects.
On the one hand, other Volksfests will take place too, if the Oktoberfest can be held. That means that showmen would either not be able to participate in other festivals that usually take place before the Oktoberfest or they may not even be available for the Oktoberfest if they already have contracts with other events that will then take place at the same time.
On the other hand, preponing the Oktoberfest also means setting it up earlier, which requires the decision whether it can take place or not be made earlier. It's questionable if preponing that decision will make it easier.
As the idea didn't get a majority in the city council, it can be considered dead by now.